There are not many times when cold weather and outdoor swims go together. A dip in any outdoor water source is usually saved for a hot summer’s day, but as soon as the phrase “polar bear plunge” is mentioned, images of freezing cold swims (often for a worthy cause) come to mind.
While Philadelphia is not on the ocean and the Philadelphia Water Department discourages swimming in either of the sections of the Schuylkill or Delaware Rivers that pass through our city, there are still opportunities to take part in polar bear plunges in the region.
There are several winter plunges happening just about an hour away at the Jersey Shore, in rivers nearby, and even a pool-based plunge happening within the city limits.
Here are polar bear plunges to sign up for this winter — and they all benefit a good cause.
A quick jump in the frigid Susquehanna River on New Year’s Day is all part of Harrisburg’s 25th annual penguin plunge, an event that raises money to support homeless animals in the region. Plungers are asked to raise at least $40 for the cause.
As part of its First Night and First Day celebrations, Ocean City, N.J., hosts a first-of-the-year dip in the Atlantic Ocean at 2 p.m. on New Year’s Day. The cold winter swim (or, more realistically, quick splash) takes place at the beach next to Ocean City Music Pier.
Wildwood’s annual polar bear plunge benefits Special Olympics New Jersey and regularly draws crowds of Shore fans. The plunge takes place on Jan. 15 in the cold Atlantic Ocean near the Wildwoods Convention Center (which is the plunge registration site). All participants must fund-raise a designated minimum amount — $100 for those who register before Dec. 31, $110 for those who register between Jan. 1 and 14, and $125 for on-site registration.
The Special Olympics Pennsylvania combined its Philadelphia and Neshaminy Creek polar bear plunges into one huge plunge at Citizens Bank Park this winter. Participants jump in ice-cold pools that are set up throughout the South Philly sports stadium, and proceeds benefit the Special Olympics of Pennsylvania. A minimum fund-raising amount of $50 (which includes the $20 registration fee) is required to participate.
At the meeting of the Delaware and Lehigh Rivers in Easton, Pa., the Lehigh Valley Polar Plunge returns to raise funds for Special Olympics Pennsylvania. Like the Philly fund-raiser, plungers must raise $50 (including the $20 registration fee) to take part in the river dive.